No-one can fail to be aware that bee populations have suffered over the last few years. They and other pollinators need our help – without them, ecosystems will not flourish. We can all do our bit by enriching our gardens with plants that provide food and breeding sites for insects.
There is a groundswell of support slowly growing to encourage this on a wider scale. The broadcaster and TV gardener, Alan Titchmarsh, is spearheading a campaign by Plantlife to enhance roadside verges. Its aim is to encourage local authorities to leave verges unmowed over summer, so that the flora can flower, set seed and then distribute its seeds. This would entail mowing only between the months of end August / early September to March.
Allowing the flora to flourish will be of benefit for our essential pollinators and halt the loss of flower populations – which have too often been mowed down in their prime. In some cases, it could be necessary to mow a narrow strip edging the road for road safety reasons (but leaving the majority of the verge untouched). As Alan Titchmarsh has said “We’ve lost 98% of our wild flower meadows, let’s look after the slivers that are left.”
The verge bordering the marsh road adjacent to the Oxwich National Nature Reserve has yellow rattle present, a plant that parasitizes grass and by weakening it, allowing other plants to multiply. There are orchids, clovers, yellow iris – all these would be absent if the owner, the Penrice Estate, had not persuaded the local authority to refrain from mowing. Just imagine what our verges would look like over the county if this practice were to be adopted as council policy. Let us hope that this will be so.
You can read more about Plantlife’s campaign on www.plantlife.org.uk. Buglife has a campaign that embodies 7 principles and 27 action points – all to encourage an increase in pollinators.
We should all be persuading our local authority to sign up to this campaign. City and County of Swansea is moving in the right direction with their wild flower seeding on council land last year and extended this year. Let us all try to do our part to improve our ecosystems for the future. [www.biodiversitywales.org.uk]